By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A most unfortunate juxtaposition

The Cambridge Chronicle, like other GateHouse papers, often runs sticky-note ads on the front page. This one didn’t work out so well. Here’s the Chronicle’s story on the alcohol-fueled imprisonment and resignation of former state senator Anthony Galluccio.

Update: Statement from GateHouse group publisher Greg Reibman.

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  1. We’ve been getting a few calls suggesting that somehow we managed to do this intentionally. The truth is we couldn’t have planned this if we tried.

    The ad sticker in question was sold and scheduled weeks before anyone could have known what would be on our front page today. And the stickers are attached to the printed page by a machine in Framingham hours after we’ve signed off on the cover layout in Somerville.

    All that said, we sincerely apologize to former Sen. Galluccio and anyone else who might, understandably, be troubled by this.

    Some callers have suggested that we should have a mechanism for telling our news staff who has purchased which ads for which editions. Our preference is to maintain that wall between our advertising department and our newsroom in spite of the potential that we will wind up embarrassed by the final product.

    Greg Reibman
    Publisher, GateHouse Media New England, Metro Unit

  2. lkcape

    Why are you apologizing to ex-hack, now inmate, Gallucio? It was he that put the bottle to his lips It was he that drove the car.

    The ad was legit, the timing and placement merely ironic.

    Sorry, that’s part of the price he pays for being famous.

    Remember, it was a hit-and-run where people were hurt and property damaged. He hit…he ran. People…and newspapers are under no obligation to alter their business practices.


    This is actually one of the funnier and ironic things in 2010.

  4. Newshound

    Front page advertising is great, and that most valuable space should be sold.

    But not with stickers placed over news or pictures. This clearly violates the dignity of the newspaper.

    Many newspapers do not accept page one advertising on the basis it violates the newspaper’s integrity. Instead, they allow these most offensive stickers.

    The GateHouse picture-ad conflict is one of those things worth a chuckle, and I think we’d all know it was not intentional. If I were paying to sell wine I wouldn’t want my advertisement placed over someone in jail for beverage abuse.

    Maybe GateHouse learned a lesson here, but maybe in the future accepting advertising in a designated non-news space would be a bigger step in restoring its integrity.

  5. Harrybosch

    What lkcape said.

  6. I apologized because: (a.) alcoholism is not funny. (b.) driving while drunk isn’t funny. (c.) the man is now a private citizen battling a not-funny health problem and (d.) While we intentionally insult and taunt politicians all the time, this one was was not intentional. I’m sorry it happened.

  7. mike_b1

    Newshound, I don’t know why anyone has a notion that certain spots need to be reserved for edit and others for advertising, but businesses exist to make money.

    One could argue that even non-paying Web surfers are contributing to the media’s bottom line by running up their page visit counts, but it’s pretty clear that advertising dollars alone cannot support full-blown news gathering on an Internet-only operation.

    So intentional or not, annoying or not, if pop-up ads and the like are what media outlets need to do to make money, then so be it.

  8. Joey

    Oh, come on, folks– this is hilarious. As to the publisher’s statement, the most intelligent thing he said was that his staff couldn’t deliberately do it if they tried.

  9. Harrybosch


    (a.) Gallucio has denied being an alcoholic, and (c.) to my knowledge, isn’t currently battling anything.

    I’ll give you (b.) and (d.)

    I absolutely understand why you are sorry it happened.

    But that’s all you have to be sorry for.

  10. lkcape

    Mr. Reibman, but for the grace of the hacks of this great state, Ex-Senator Gallucio would be a felon.

    He sacrificed many of his rights to privacy when he left the scene of an accident and expected the “system” to be on his side when both a felony hit-and-run and DUI were implied.

    And, no, alcoholism is not funny. Nor is driving while intoxicated or leaving the scene of an accident when someone has been injured. (Remember, just a few hours before he was so intoxicated that he was unable to assist the Cambridge police in finding his house as they tried to take him home.)

    I assure you that I am not accusing you of being mean spirited.

    But the irony of the placement is hard to dismiss. And I see no reason why you are required to issue an apology.

  11. Newshound

    Mike – I’m all for newspapers making money from advertising. This is accomplished with suitable circulation penetration into the designated market area, regardless of whether the newspaper is distributed free or paid.

    Circulation is on the decline and not for just one reason alone. But putting out a dignified product should result in better penetration in the market than a product carelessly constructed. Pop-up ads distract negatively. The same space on a page should be either news or advertising, but not news covered with advertising.

    In the GateHouse incident, the ad could have been placed in the column adjacent to the picture and would have had similar controversial irony. At least it wouldn’t have lacked so much dignity.

    While the former senator’s situation can be viewed as a big joke, or a horrible abuse of authority and alcohol, justice as been served and the GateHouse publisher appears to be taking a sincere, mature approach with his thinking and comments, which is a most welcome conclusion.

    The man who is now described as leaving an empty bar stool somewhere in Cambridge is a public celebrity, but the story, indeed, ends sadly about: “(a.) alcoholism is not funny” and “(b.) driving while drunk isn’t funny.” This man caused harm to others and himself, but he is still a person “battling a not-funny health problem.”

    There are things GateHouse could do to dignify itself, in particular with its approach with advertising, but the Metro Unit publisher has responded in a most kind, understanding and mature manner and we should applaud that.

    And while the situation is viewed as funny, it isn’t necessarily so funny for the advertiser who paid for this to have his sticker placed over someone going to jail for alcohol abuse any more than we’d want to see a sticker advertising a certain brand car placed over about that same brand’s recall or danger. Whether or not newspapers last the decade or century, carelessness with handling paid advertising is not the nutrition to keep this business healthy.

    An important rule in business is to make all attempts for a satisfied customer. The advertiser is this case may not be satisfied, nor the reader, either, who has an obstruction over viewing a picture published as news. Other potential advertisers, too, could shy away from participating in advertising in products that are not carefully produced with sensitivity and dignity.

  12. Donna Morris

    Greg Reibman’s integrity and sense of responsibility are commendable. His explanation, apology, and subsequent clarification are rare in journalism today. Perhaps there’s a message in the fact that Mr. Reibman felt it necessary to explain why he apologized.

  13. lkcape

    Perhaps Mr. Reibman should climb all over Dan Kennedy’s case for calling attention to the irony?

    Maybe Mr. Reibman is setting the stage for a future endorsement of Mr. Gallucio for public office again?

    This is, after all Hackachussets, and Mr. Reibman’s paper is a fixture in the Peoples Republic of Cambridge.

    Sorry. I see no reason to give Mr. Gallucio a pass.

    As for the advertiser? His business may have gone up because of this kerfuffle.

    Remember the boost that Jockey Shorts got from their Tonight Show exposure?

  14. mike_b1

    @Newshound wrote “Pop-up ads distract negatively. The same space on a page should be either news or advertising, but not news covered with advertising.”

    What you must understand is yours is an opinion based on years of doing things one way and one way only. It’s not one of the basic physical truths of the universe. And if putting popups or other ads where editorial traditionally was is the price of an otherwise free subscription, well then the question isn’t whether media should be doing that, but why aren’t they doing it more often.

  15. Newshound

    The presumption is the advertiser paid a goodly sum for this ad and deserves every bit of the success it brings, and nothing less.

    The newspaper is in the advertising business and its fundamental objective is to make its paying customers successful. And not just by chance, but deliberately.

    Advertising and news is often humorous or presented in a way that is humorous, but this is a serious business to be taken seriously by responsible adults.

    The former senator has acted as a jerk. What he did and how he left others injured in the street is horrible. Nevertheless, he is another human still deserving of compassion with the blessing that he grows past this and becomes a contributing member of society instead of a parasite, and is able to enjoy the balance of his life in a noble way. The same blessing applies, too, to those he injured.

    The district is well populated with quality people to serve in the Massachusetts Senate, thus the prospect of Mr. Gallucio’s return to popularity and the senate appears dim in light of likely competition.

  16. Newshound

    Mike – cheating the customer is nothing new. It has never been a long term methodology towards success.

  17. Newshound

    And, Mike, I see the validity of your point. I’m all in favor of page one advertising, and stickers, too, so long as it brings maximum value to the paying advertiser and does not violate the dignity of the loyal, faithful and most important reader irrelevant of whether circulation is free or paid.

    The reader with buying and spending power is the ultimate target and thus, needs to be treasured.

  18. mike_b1

    I guess our disagreement lies in our definition of “most important reader.” For a media business, I would argue the most important reader is the one advertisers pay the most to reach. Take radio, for instance. Consider the premium advertisers pay to reach males between the ages of 18-34. Now, we could debate whether that same demographic is the most profitable for newspapers (and their online operations) to concentrate on. But the point is that if the highest-margin advertisers want to reach 25-year-olds, it doesn’t matter whether old folks like me (42) are put off by the methods used to do so, provided the “kids” aren’t. And those kids, I, guarantee, have a very different mindset when it comes to the ad/edit church/state walls erected 50 years before they were born.

    (Btw, I would never call someone who doesn’t pay for a product a “customer.”)

  19. O-FISH-L

    @Greg: “Our preference is to maintain that wall between our advertising department and our newsroom in spite of the potential that we will wind up embarrassed by the final product.”

    The wall is laudable but despite your regrets, everyone gets a good laugh when it’s a booze addled politician coincidentally pictured with a discount wine ad.

    What, though, if the front page was reporting a 42 year-old mom hacked to death, her 11 year old daughter with throat slashed (see Milford, NH), accompanied by a sticky ad for Ginsu knives? How about a front page report of a devastating local plane crash accompanied by a sticky ad for discount air travel?

    The Cambridge Chronicle dodged a bullet on this one because Galluccio is an unsympathetic figure. Still, I’d be rethinking policy. At least one administrator at the printing plant should have decision making authority so an inappropriate sticky-note ad can be yanked. Maintaining “the wall” and avoiding embarrassment aren’t mutually exclusive.

  20. lkcape

    Sorry, Newshound, I cannot disagree with you more concerning Mr. Gallucio.

    His lame excuse to the Court initially, his failure to show serious remorse for the injury and damage he caused, his obvious avoidance of the alcoholism issue, the downright laughable explanation that he gave for his failed breath test, and his whiny, begging resignation letter puts him in the class of selfish fool who is unwilling to accept the responsibilities of his own actions.

    If, and when, he does, he then can be a candidate for compassion.

    Until then he is an incompetent miscreant.

    Now, since the People’s Republic of Cambridge is so “well populated with quality people to serve in the Massachusetts Senate”, one must look at the question of how this grossly unqualified individual managed to float to the top of the cesspool.

    How do you explain this hack being elected, and what are the odds that your district will just put another hack in his place?

    The People’s Republic of Cambridge and its pattern of electing less-than-competent candidates leaves the PRC open to a fair degree of ridicule, too.

  21. lkcape

    RE: Front page advertising. All for it. As long as when you pull the sticker off the paper doesn’t rip or the ink comes off with the sticker.

  22. Does former state senator Gallucio belong to a political party?

    Based on the non-mention, I take it he’s a Democrat. If he had been a Republican, that fact would have been mentioned up front.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @McClatchy Watch: Get a grip. Every politician in Massachusetts is Democrat, with very few exceptions. If you think failing to point out the obvious is bias, go for it.

  23. Newshound

    Ikape – To your surprise perhaps, I agree with much your wrote:

    “His lame excuse . . . his failure to show serious remorse for the injury and damage he caused, his obvious avoidance of the alcoholism issue, the downright laughable explanation that he gave . . . and his whiny, begging resignation letter puts him in the class of selfish fool who is unwilling to accept the responsibilities of his own actions.”

    Yes, I agree with all that.

    ” . . he is an incompetent miscreant.” Agree with that, too.

    ” . . . one must look at the question of how this grossly unqualified individual managed to float to the top of the cesspool.” Can’t disagree with that either. Have to blame the voters some for that one, too. The question deserves a lot of analysis, but overall, voters made a poor choice for one or a variety of reasons. It is happening too much.

    But, this human being is one horrible, sick, misguided, non-productive, lazy, incompetent, irresponsible, dishonest, puppy living off the backs of working and productive people in our society who are making a contribution. Four our sake and his, we should hope he becomes a productive and contributing member of society instead of being a parasite.

    Most people will never serve in the Massachusetts Senate or House. No matter how much recovery the former senator makes, he should never be trusted to return to elected or appointed office of public trust. Never. And that should not be his decision. That right belongs to us and voters need to be willing to be informed to be in control to avoid situations like this again.

  24. Newshound

    Mike – the theory is that every reader of the newspaper is a target in the sense that essentially, all have at least some spending power.

    The particular ad that we have discussed is targeted at those who would be buying alcoholic beverage.

    My only point is that the sticker is placed over and covers editorial matter. Perhaps it is a modern technique that will be proven to be an economic life saver for newspapers. But it seems to violate the tradition of preserving the integrity of editorial content, and the reason for doing that should go without saying.

    There does not appear to be any true economic value with the sticker since there is no savings in paper and higher production and material cost.

    Placing stickers covering editorial matter does not appear a methodology of building circulation, and without circulation the ad no matter where placed, is useless.

  25. Harrybosch

    Had it been a sex scandal, we would simply have inferred the opposite.

  26. Chuck

    The publisher feels like he has to apologize because of a coincidence?

    I know an apology don’t cost nothing, but that’s silly.

    Bad precedent.

    Do they allow DUI lawyers to advertise on the same page as the police blotter? How far away would the ad have to be to be acceptable?


  27. lkcape

    No, no not bias, Dan, just continuing embarrassment for the Hackocratic Party…. You tend to avoid admitting that the corruption is as extensive as you know it is.

    Answer this if you will: How is it that federal prosecutors are pressing charges against corrupt MA officials instead of the State’s Attorney General?

  28. lkcape

    “Four [sic] our sake and his, we should hope he becomes a productive and contributing member of society instead of being a parasite.”

    I could care less that he become a productive and contributing member of society; that is a matter for Gallucio and Gallucio alone.

    I do care that whatever parasitic tendencies he may still harbor — like going after a state pension — are stymied.

  29. Newshound

    Ikcape – his problem would be his alone if it were not a costly menace to police, courts, probation officers, hospital bills for victims, and jail.

  30. lkcape

    Only politically is he a menace to the police, courts, and probation officers.

    Now, when they look aside at yet another of his transgressions, they will find themselves in the political crosshairs.

    And rightly so.

    I agree about the costly menace to victims or potential victims, but if incarceration is the only way to keep him from harming others, then it is a cost the public should be delighted to bear.

    If he elects not to change his ways, then so be it.

    That’s up to him.

  31. Come on, it’s just contextual advertising! Google does it all the time!

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